(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "My Country And My People"

LITERARY    LIFE                        257

self-satisfaction, its creation was determined by a true creative
impulse and not by love of money or fame. And because it was
ostracized literature in respectable circles, it escaped the banal
influence of all classical, conventional standards. So far from
giving the author money or fame, the authorship of a novel
could endanger a scholar's personal safety.

At Kiangyin, the home of Shih Nai-an, the author of All Men
Are Brothers, there is still a legend about what Shih did in
order to get himself out of trouble. In this legend, Shih was
credited with the gift of foreknowledge of events. He had
written this novel, and was living in retirement, having refused
to serve the new Ming Dynasty. One day the Emperor came
with Liu Powen, Shih's classmate and now the Emperor's
right-hand man. Liu saw the manuscripts of this novel on his
table, and recognizing Shih's superior talent, Liu plotted for his
ruin. It was a time when the security of the new dynasty was
not yet ensured, and Shih's novel, advocating as it did the
common "brotherhood of all men," including the robbers,
contained rather dangerous thoughts. So one day, on this
basis, Liu petitioned the Emperor to have Shih summoned to
the capital for trial. When the warrant came, Shih knew that
his manuscripts had been stolen and realized that it would mean
his death, so he borrowed five hundred tads from a friend with
which to bribe the boatman and asked the latter to make the
voyage as slowly as possible. Therefore on the way to Nanking
he hurriedly composed a fantastic supernatural novel, the
Fengshenpangy1 in order to convince the Emperor of his insanity.
Under this cover of insanity, Shih saved his own life.

Thus surreptitiously the novel grew, like a wayward flower,
casting its glance on the lonely wayfarer in a sheer effort to
please. Like the wayward flower, too, impressively growing on
the surface of a barren rock, it grew without cultivation, and it
gave without expecting return, from a sheer inner creative
impulse. Sometimes such a flower gives only a single blossom
in a quarter of a century, but how that blossom shines! That
blossom seems to be the justification for its existence; it has
drained its life-blood and having blossomed, the flower dies.
Such is the origin of all good tales and all good novels. So did

1 The authorship of this novel is really